Google left no stone unturned during today’s Google I/O keynote presentation. In addition to announcing Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and the new Nexus 7 tablet, Sergey Brin showed up to show off his pet project, Google Glass. Brin put on quite a show, with Google Glass-wearing skydivers, repellers, and bicyclists.
The announcement behind all the spectacle was that Google I/O attendees will be able to pre-order the “Explorer Edition” of Google Glass for $1,500. U.S.-based convention attendees will be able to have the device shipped to them “early next year.” The hope of the Google Glass development team is that the developers will take Glass and develop creative new uses for it.
Members of the Glass team were on hand to back up Brin’s presentation with a demonstration of how Glass has been used so far. They stated that it has taken the small team a year and a half to reduce the form-factor of the device from a Virtual Boy-sized head display to the current, relatively demure design. The team focused on creating an asymmetrical design that was balanced and light. “It weighs less on your nose than many sunglasses,” said Isabelle Olsson, an Industrial Designer working on Project Glass.
The Glass in its current form has gyroscopes to sense user position, and sturdy enough to be worn during a variety of physical activities. As examples, the team showed the first-person perspective of team members playing tennis and jumping into a ball pit. Of course, skydiving was also demonstrated live, which is a gutsy move for an experimental device during Google’s biggest show of the year.
It was stated during the presentation that the Glass team has two broad aspirations for Glass. The first, communicating through images, is the way of using Glass that has most been demonstrated. The device will certainly offer a first-person point of view, allowing users to see the world through the eyes of their friends and loved ones. Whether people actually want to view the world that way, is another question entirely. The other aspiration, which has yet to be seen in action, is instant access to information. If the engineers at Google X can create a good enough user interface for Glass, the device should be able to provide much of the functionality that smartphones currently provide, while enabling the user to remain engaged in the physical world. That will be something to see.